Last but not least – Zion was my favorite of the national parks. The pictures do not represent well the majesty and beauty of this park. We arrived at drove for I don’t know how long down this long, twisty road to the base of the park. We were surrounded on all sides by what you see in the pictures.
By this time, I was truly ill. Miserable and tired, I did not feel like doing much. But I pushed myself to get through the first afternoon hike, just to see a bit of the park. We walked about a mile, along a well-worn path. We stopped several times to discuss plants, history, rock formations. All along the way, there were these tremendously fat squirrels. Fearless creatures – they were obviously the beneficiaries of hordes of tourists ignoring signs to “not feed the wildlife”. You have never seen squirrels so fat. (I didn’t take any pictures – though I should have – but I stole one from the Internet – see below) Over time, they have gotten downright obnoxious.
As we set out on our hike, I kept my jacket (as it is the desert, and can heat up and cool down quickly) and accepted the proffered walking stick from our guides. Earlier in the day, I had put some banana chips in my jacket pocket. (you can see where this is going) Thinking some sustenance might be advantageous, I left them there for the hike. “Chow is continuous” is a motto I learned early in my Marine Corps career.
The desert air quickly turned from chilly to hot. Along with a little warmth created by the hike, I quickly lost the jacket. Wrapped around my waist, it presented no problem until I went to rest my weary body on an accommodating rock. This fat, overly zealous squirrel snuck up behind me and started scratching at the pocket of my jacket!
I whipped around and shouted at him. This tactic failed for more than a moment, and he lurched again for the inviting banana chips. At that moment, I wielded my walking stick with fury, and poked him until he backed off. Undaunted, he tried again – and again – before finally waltzing off. The rest of my tour group had stood by watching in amusement as I dueled with the squirrel. (I kept my banana chips and unscathed jacket – good thing I had all those years of Marine Corps training!)
The route back took us (optionally) through a stream. The water was cold, but it was fun to test my five finger shoes on the rocks! By the time we were done, I was exhausted but happy. On our way out of the park, we noticed that the shuttle bus had a picture of someone’s hand stitched up after a particularly bad squirrel bite. It was supposed to serve as a warning to those wanting to pet the wildlife. Glad I had my trusty walking stick-spear!
Finally, we arrived at our lodging. I did not think the day would end. The rooms were gorgeous, and I so appreciated that! I needed rest, quiet and comfort. Check out the view from my balcony! I had no need to go further (and I didn’t – other than to make a trip to the clinic for antibiotics, and a short expedition for food and wine). I spent the next 36 hours wandering the small town a bit, enjoying wine from my balcony and sleeping. Oh sleep.